Do you remember high school? To be specific, do you remember any of the truly childish stuff you did in high school? Yeah, weren’t we cute back in those hallowed days when America still had a sense of perspective?
Part of the experience of being a kid is that they make mistakes. We all make mistakes, we all made a lot of dumb mistakes during our high school years, and now – evidently – we all live in glass houses behind a large pile of stones.
Case in point. Last week three students briefly, as in for between 30 seconds and one minute, wore Ku Klux Klan robes and hoods to their high school hockey game. The kids were supporting their team, the Red River North Dakota Roughriders. They were poking fun at a tradition that encourages fans to wear all-white garb to important playoff games, of which this was one.
Back in 1987 the fans of the original Winnipeg Jets (now the Phoenix Coyotes, not to be confused with the current Winnipeg Jets) wore all-white in support of their team in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This stunt continued and has spread to local college and high school hockey. According to their principal Kristopher Arason, Red River High fans are supposed to wear a different color for each of the three days of their state tournament. This was the second game; the color of the day for the first game was black and, no, these dolts did not show up in blackface.
The three were caught by a cellphone camera and Tweeted across the universe. Principal Arason defensively stated “This behavior is not a representation of our school or student body” and that “appropriate action is being taken.”
This gave my Uh-Oh Sense a migraine.
I have a hard time believing this childish nonsense was an attack on the black community. Less than one percent of the entire state population is black. In fact, American Indians and native Alaskans (Inuits, etc.) outnumber blacks five-to-one. It’s hard to imagine most North Dakotan high schoolers have had a lot of personal experience with black folk, at least those not in uniform. These were high school kids doing the stupid things high school kids do. They thought it was funny. I suspect they’ve reconsidered that point.
But because today we hide our cowardly inability to raise our own children and demand their caretakers deploy the ugly and brain-dead concept of zero-tolerance (which is exactly the same as zero-intelligence), it is possible that these kids are going to be punished in some major, life-affecting way. Perhaps they’ll be expelled. Maybe they’ll only be suspended and have to serve that year of schooling over. Either way, they can kiss any chance of getting into a decent college goodbye.
That is an extremely high price to pay for children acting childishly. And, as long-time readers might recall, I say this as the child of a parent who was burned out of his house in Indianapolis by the Ku Klux Klan. I was a witness to a major Klan rally right here in Connecticut in 1986, complete with hooded horses. I know the terror suggested by the costume.
I also know the terror of being a teenager. I ask Principal Arason and his cohorts and all the people grabbing their fifteen minutes of fame in their self-righteous indignation to stop for a bit of perspective. These kids weren’t in the road show of Birth of a Nation. As they sang in The Mikado, let the punishment fit the crime.
One more thing. Kids, you’ve got a cellphone, right? Well, so does everybody else.
Mike Gold performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, www.getthepointradio.com, every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check the website above for times. Gold also joins MDW’s Marc Alan Fishman, Martha Thomases and Michael Davis as a weekly columnist at www.comicmix.com where he pontificates on matters of four-color.